Building Safe Passage Sustainable Transition Programs that Reduce the Impact on Learning and Relationships Caused by Mobility
Two-day ACAMIS Weekend Workshop
Hangzhou International School, China
November 16-17, 2018
Essential Learning Question:
In the face of the mobility and turnover that typify many international school communities, how can we build and maintain the kinds of schools that support optimal learning and attachment security?
Research clearly demonstrates that people learn better when they feel safe. Research also clearly connects attachment security to better outcomes across the lifespan, in relationships, work, and physical health. This “SPAN Primer” workshop provides a comprehensive understanding of the issues at stake when people move or are moved away from. The workshop starts at the micro level, reviewing the psychological, neurological, and biological issues at stake when the stress of moving strikes. The workshop then “pans out,” linking these issues in increasingly broader fashion to the realities of how schools work. Participants examine i) how mobility has affected them personally and why they are invested in building effective transitions programs; ii) how to build and actually maintain such programs for the long term; iii) how networks of schools can and must collaborate in order for any school to be optimally effective; iv) the challenges that exist before schools can collaborate; and v) how SPAN strives to resolve these challenges by developing effective global best practices and policies.
This workshop is intended for those who develop, implement, or support transitions activities or programs at schools or networks of schools: school leadership, counselors and pastoral care specialists, admissions directors, teachers, empowered parents.
Why isn’t more being done to address transitions at international schools? Moving hurts, and we withdraw from pain. Transitions programs are difficult to build and even harder to maintain; the programs themselves are subject to transitions: when key players move, programs erode.
David Pollock warned that “you have to grieve well to leave well.” But no single school can address grief on its own; how a new student fares at your school depends partly on how well he or she was helped to leave their last school. Developing a program that helps your students enter and leave well should be a primary focus.
Safe Passage Across Networks, or SPAN, envisions a world where students can move to and from (international) schools in ways that support their emotional health. This work is timely. Students at our schools are ideally positioned to continue to develop the capacity to understand those who think differently. Such a capacity will always offer the world a way forward. If we want to increase the chances that international school students will go on to do generative things with their educational experiences—for their communities and for the planet—helping them graduate with intact attachment systems and the ability to successfully transition is a very good place to start.
- Participants will gain a visceral grasp on why they care about, and are invested in, addressing mobility.
- Participants will understand what happens inside the brain and physiology of somebody stressed by moving or being moved away from—regardless of appearances on the outside.
- Participants will grasp the empirical connections between this stress and learning outcomes.
- Participants will understand what is meant by attachment security, and the importance of attachment security for long-term human health and well-being.
- Participants will understand why it is likely that many school practices in the domain of mobility may be inadvertently contributing to attachment insecurity in their students.
- Participants will grasp key parameters for building effective transitions programs at their schools.
- Participants will craft strategic plans and visions for developing or improving such programs.
- Participants will understand why single schools cannot build truly effective programs in isolation.
- Participants will develop and innovate ways of building networked transitions programs at collections of schools, building on ACAMIS and beyond.
- Participants will understand the role and vision of SPAN, and what they can do to become a certified Safe Passage school in the future, should they so desire